Most new businesses stem from a great idea. Growing that idea into a business is extremely difficult, and even more so if you are trying to do it around pre-existing work, family and life commitments. Knowing how much time to spend on your new venture, and staying organised and productive without exhausting yourself and without neglecting those around you is a real skill.
Fitting in your side business during the week is pretty demanding stuff and after a full day in your regular job you may not feel able to dedicate more than an hour towards your new business. Even if you can spend a little time answering emails or planning, you are still making progress.
The ideal time to focus on your new business is during your days off. For the purpose of this blog we are going to focus on a weekend as this is when many people in 9-5 jobs get their time off. However we know that everyone works in different ways and your ‘weekend’ could actually be at any time or on any days of the week. The point is to utilize this time to achieve more.
With a whole day or two sprawled in front of you, you could be lulled into a false sense of security thinking that with all that free time there is no way you couldn’t be productive, is there? It is surprisingly how long a whole lot of doing nothing takes. Distractions are everywhere, particularly if you are working at home where there is family or friends, as well as the usual culprits of social media channels to distract you. Unless you can focus, block out those distractions and figure out a strategy to stay on track, your business may never reach its potential.
We aren’t saying that you can’t keep some of your time off to spend as you wish. There is the possibility of creating a harmonious work life balance that doesn’t sacrifice either your side business or your personal time. They key to achieving this is through planning and structure, and we are going to share with your our top tips for helping you to grow your side business during your free time.
Use your weeknight working time wisely
Only spending an hour a night working on your side business might not seem enough time to get anything done, but you can actually utilize the time very effetively, by preparing for the weekend ahead.
Say for example you are planning on preparing a big pitch at the weekend. You know it is going to require research and planning before you can start to write it. You can use your weeknight working time to complete all of the research that you will need so that when you get to the weekend, you have everything in place to get the important job – the pitch – done!
Whatever you do during the week should help set you up for a weekend of effective working.
List everything in an action plan
You may come up with some great ideas or strategies during the week that you just don’t have the time or energy to implement. However by writing these into an action plan, you have something to work from when the weekend hits. You notice that we are calling this an action plan rather than a list? That is because lists don’t imply any urgency or determination. Anything with a place on an action plan is something that needs to happen. Even if you don’t manage to complete everything on your list by the end of the weekend, you can roll things on to the following week.
PLANNING YOUR WEEKEND:
On a Friday night you are probably tired after a long week at work. However, it is an ideal time to consider what goals for your side business that you have accomplished this week.
In order for any business to grow and succeed they need to recognise what does and doesn’t work for them, and make any changes necessary to resolve whatever problems may be holding it back. Some points to consider include:
- Highlight/Positive of the week
- Low point/Negative of the week
- Things that time was wasted on
- Things that weren’t achieved
You can then use this list to create your plan for the weekend. However, before you get started you need to think about how much free time you have during these days off. For example, if you have family commitments then you need to account for these ahead of planning your schedule otherwise you will fail before your have even started.
You also need to decide on any absolute priorities that must be fulfilled during those days.
What tools can I use to plan my weekend?
When it comes to setting your schedule for the weekend, there are some useful tools available. Trello is similar to a virtual whiteboard where you can ‘pin’ tasks to specific days and move them around if necessary. One of the benefits of tracking your schedule online is that it eliminates little pieces of paper that are likely to get lost. It also means you can easily reschedule tasks without scribbling out diary entries, minimizing any confusion. If you aren’t familiar with Trello there are plenty of other apps that you could try, or you could simply use Google Calendar.
My action plan is huge, where do I start?
Sometimes if you have a lot of different jobs to do it can be difficult to know where to start. If this sounds like you then why not try the Pareto Principle. It focuses on the 20% of things that you have been doing that have yielded 80% of your results. It is not as complicated as it sounds and it helps you identify exactly what is important to focus on first in your business. For more information on the Pareto Principle, click here!
Our top tip for organizing your weekend diary – don’t put off the hardest or most time consuming tasks. Not only do you have the constant stress of having them lurking in the background to so, but we bet they will consistently get bumped down the priority list in favour of quicker and easier jobs. Instead, face them head on and get them out of the way!
Your first full day of f is usually the most productive. Therefore it is important to minimize distractions and maximize your efficiency on this day. There are several ways that you can do this.
- Use online applications. There are a number of different applications and programs available to download that can stop you being distracted and help you understand your productivity levels.
One of these is “Stay Focused” which is available on Google Chrome. It limits the amount of time you can spend on websites outside of your core work, stopping you from procrastinating. Stay Focused is fully customisable and configurable, meaning that you can tailor it to block what distracts you the most, be it social media, games or anything else.
There is also a program called “Rescue Time”, also available on Chrome, which keeps track of what you are doing and challenges you to beat your productivity levels.
There are plenty of other tools like these available online. Just take a look and see what suits you.
- Adopt new working techniques. Different people work better in different ways. The Pomodoro Technique works on maximizing your efficiency for 25-minute segments, with a 5/10 minute break between each.
- Switch your mobile phone onto aeroplane mode. This stops you making calls and means that you can’t check social media every 5 minutes either!
Hopefully you will have had a productive Saturday and as such you can spend your Sunday tying up any loose ends and scheduling for the week ahead.
One of the most helpful features in social media is the ability to schedule posts ahead of time. This means that even when you can’t be active online; your content can still be shared. Spend your working time on your final day off scheduling social media posts, emails and even blog posts. Continuity is very important to customers and audiences, so make sure that you schedule for the same time every week.
You can also plan the week ahead using your preferred scheduling tool. By moving tasks to specific days ahead of time, the little amount of time during the week will be spent effectively as you will know exactly what you need to do.
Setting weekly goals on a visible checklist will help you to stay focused on achieving certain milestones for your business, driving it towards where you ultimately want to be. These can be as simple as sending out emails to measurable results such as increasing traffic or sales numbers. Each time you reach a goal is a step towards your business success.
Be Realistic with Yourself
Planning and structure is crucial for succeeding to set up your side business during your free time, but you also need to be realistic with yourself. Sometimes life does get in the way, and you may not always be at your most productive. However, when these times do happen it is important to remember that every minute and hour you spend building your side business is helping it grow and develop. Instead what this plan does is teach you how to create good working habits that will help you utilize your free time to grow your side business.